Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 3:14
AC 242. Verse 14. And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above every beast, and above every wild animal of the field; upon thy belly shall thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. By "Jehovah God said unto the serpent," is signified that they perceived their sensuous part to be the cause (of their fall). "The serpent cursed above every beast and above every wild animal of the field," signifies that their sensuous part averted itself from that which is heavenly, and turned itself to that which is of the body, and thus cursed itself; the "beast," and the "wild animal of the field," here signify affections, as before. The "serpent going upon its belly," signifies that their sensuous part could no longer look upward to the things of heaven, but only downward, to those of the body and the earth. Its "eating dust all the days of its life," signifies that their sensuous part became such that it could not live from anything but that which is of the body and the earth, that is to say, it became infernal.
AC 243. In the most ancient celestial men the sensuous things of the body were of such a character as to be compliant and subservient to their internal man, and beyond this they did not care for them. But after they had begun to love themselves, they set the things of sense before the internal man, and therefore those things were separated, became corporeal, and so were condemned.
AC 244. Having before shown that by "Jehovah God speaking to the serpent" is signified their perceiving the sensuous part to be the cause of their fall, no more need be said in regard to these words.
AC 245. That "He said to the serpent, Thou art cursed above every beast, and above every wild animal of the field," signifies that the sensuous part averted itself from that which is heavenly, turned itself to that which is of the body, and thus cursed itself, may be clearly shown from the internal sense of the Word. Jehovah God or the Lord never curses any one. He is never angry with any one, never leads any one into temptation, never punishes any one, and still less does He curse any one. All this is done by the infernal crew, for such things can never proceed from the Fountain of mercy, peace, and goodness. The reason of its being said, both here and in other parts of the Word, that Jehovah God not only turns away His face, is angry, punishes, and tempts, but also kills and even curses, is that men may believe that the Lord governs and disposes all and everything in the universe, even evil itself, punishments, and temptations; and when they have received this most general idea, may afterwards learn how He governs and disposes all things by turning the evil of punishment and of temptation into good. In teaching and learning the Word, the most general truths must come first; and therefore the literal sense is full of such things.
AC 246. That the "beast and the wild animal of the field" signify affections, is evident from what was previously said concerning them (n. 45, 46), to which it is permitted to add the following passage from David:--
Thou, O God, dost send the rain of Thy kindnesses; Thou confirmest Thy laboring inheritance; Thy wild animal shall dwell therein (Ps. 68:9, 10),
where also "wild animal" denotes the affection of good, because it is said that it shall "dwell in the inheritance of God." The reason why here, and also in (Genesis 2:19, 20), the "beast and the wild animal of the field" are mentioned, while in (Genesis 1:24, 25), the "beast and the wild animal of the earth" are named, is that the present passage treats of the church or regenerated man, whereas the first chapter related to what was as yet not a church, or to man about to become regenerate; for the word "field" is applied to the church, or to the regenerate.
AC 247. That the "serpent going on his belly" denotes that their sensuous part could no longer look upward to the things of heaven, but only downward to those of the body and the earth, is evident from the fact that in ancient times by the "belly" such things are signified as are nearest to the earth; by the "chest" such as are above the earth; and by the "head," what is highest. It is here said that the sensuous part which in itself is the lowest part of man’s nature, "went upon its belly," because it turned to what is earthly. The depression of the belly even to the earth, and the sprinkling of dust on the head, had a similar signification in the Jewish Church. Thus we read in David:--
Wherefore hidest Thou Thy faces, and forgettest our misery and our oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust, and our belly cleaveth to the earth. Arise, a help for us, and redeem us for Thy mercy‘s sake (Ps. 44:24-26),
where also it is evident that when man averts himself from the face of Jehovah, he "cleaves by his belly to the dust and to the earth." In Jonah likewise, by the "belly"’ of the great fish, into which he was cast, are signified the lower parts of the earth, as is evident from his prophecy:--
Out of the belly of hell cried I, and Thou heardest my voice (Jonah 2:2),
where "hell" denotes the lower earth.
AC 248. And therefore when man had regard to heavenly things, he was said to "walk erect," and to "look upward," or "forward," which means the same; but when he had regard to corporeal and earthly things, he was said to be "bowed to the earth," and to "look downward" or "backward." As in Leviticus:--
I am Jehovah your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bonds of your yoke, and made you to go erect (Leviticus 26:13).
Ye shall not thence remove your necks, neither shall ye go erect (Micah 2:3).
Jerusalem hath sinned a sin, therefore they despise her, because they have seen her nakedness; yea, she groaned and hath turned backward. From on high hath He sent fire into my bones, and hath made me to return backward; He hath made me desolate (Lam. 1:8, 13).
And in Isaiah:--
Jehovah thy Redeemer, that turneth wise men backward, and maketh foolish their knowledge (Isaiah 44:24, 25).
AC 249. That to "eat dust all the days of its life" signifies that their sensuous part became such that it could not live from anything except that which is of the body and the earth, that is to say, that it became infernal, is evident also from the signification of "dust" in the Word; as in Micah:--
Feed thy people as in the days of eternity. The nations shall see and shall blush at all their might; they shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall be shaken out of their holds like creeping things (serpentes) of the earth (Micah 7:14, 16, 17).
The "days of eternity," mean the Most Ancient Church; the "nations," those who trust in their Own, of whom it is predicated that "they shall lick the dust like a serpent." In David:--
Barbarians shall bow themselves before God, and His enemies shall lick the dust (Ps. 72:9).
"Barbarians" and "enemies" are those who regard only earthly and worldly things. In Isaiah:--
Dust shall be the serpent‘s bread (Isaiah 65:25).
As "dust" signifies those who do not regard spiritual and celestial things, but only what is corporeal and earthly, therefore the Lord enjoined His disciples that if the city or house into which they entered was not worthy, they should "shake off the dust of their feet" (Matt. 10:14). That "dust" signifies what is condemned and infernal, will be further shown at (verse 19).GENESIS 3:14 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
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